Rome Citizens are Fixing their City where the Government has Failed

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I wasn't supposed to post news anymore but since there's a really positive one, I can (and must!) do it with clear conscience:

City maintenance – or the lack of it – has long been a hot-button issue in Italy’s capital. There are an estimated 10,000 potholes in the city – a source of frustration for the many Romans who travel by scooter.

What is the government doing to fix those? Nothing whatsoever. Fortunately Rome has brave citizens who take matters into their own hands:

The seven clandestine pavement-fixers are part of a network of about 20 activists quietly doing the work that the city authorities have failed to do.

Gap have been busy over the past few months. In December they repaired the fountain, built in the 1940s, of the Principe di Piemonte primary school

They have to do that because the government apparently can't:

A few months ago, he recalls, city authorities came to fix it but only repaired the pipe, and left the structure as a whole unusable.

The government, of course, hates the fact that the citizens are doing anything like this...

To repair the fountain they entered the school without permission

...but nobody would have done it otherwise:

But in the case of the fountain nobody else was going to fix it for at least two years

Why does the government prohibit direct citizen action that helps everyone? Because it robs them of power they crave. What would happen if people realized they could affect the world in real, physical ways, without begging a "representative" that doesn't really represent them? Maybe we could take off the CCTV cameras. Maybe kick out the landlords and stop paying rent. Maybe destroy the advertisements in public space. Maybe take over all business to take back what belongs to the workers in the first place (and fix all the current flaws of shopping that exist because people have no say). The possibilities are endless!

“It’s not like we’re a group of anarchists,” says Renato. “We’re just people living here in this neighbourhood where everyone knows each other, trying to make things better.”

Oh, but you are. That is exactly what anarchism is supposed to be about - bottom-up organization; controlling the territory you live in instead of relying on a ruler who's never even seen the place.

“I hope someone will follow our example,” says Nadir. “I would love to learn one day that Gap groups have formed in other cities.”

Me too. In recent years the news of direct action has been scarce. And yet this is the kind of initiative which will bring a revolution - not posting on twitter, "liking" something on facebook, or voting for yet another useless politician. So we have to do our part and widely publicize every single one of them. For now, let's celebrate the people fixing the city of Rome!

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